Week 15 had showcased one of the fiercest NFL rivalries in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals going head-to-head in Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. The two teams were headed in two different directions with Pittsburgh riding a four-game winning streak, and an 8-5 record, with the Bengals winning their last two games, but most would say too little too late with a 5-7-1 record.
However, when these two teams play one another, records are thrown out of the window and the hatred is evident. Cincinnati received the opening kickoff, and the offense, aided by a Stephon Tuitt facemask penalty, was able to put 3 points on the board after a 7-minute drive resulted in a Randy Bullock field goal. However, Pittsburgh answered with a field goal drive of their own when Chris Boswell tacked on 3 points to tie the game 3-3.
Cincinnati’s second drive was again aided by a huge penalty, this time on a deep pass where rookie cornerback Artie Burns was flagged for pass interference, giving the Bengals the ball at the 1-yard line. After the defense stopped Jeremy Hill three straight plays, Andy Dalton scored on the quarterback sneak to give the Bengals a 10-3 lead.
The Bengals’ dominance continued in all three phases when Cincinnati turned a huge kickoff return into a Jeremy Hill touchdown, and more quality field position to another Bullock field goal to give Cincinnati a 20-6. Roethlisberger, inside two-minutes, moved the ball into Chris Boswell’s field goal range, and the placekicker nailed his second 49-yard field goal, and third of the game to cut the lead 20-9 heading into halftime.
To start the second half, Ben Roethlisberger was able to move the offense into Boswell’s field goal range again, for his fourth field goal of the game to make the score 20-12.
After Boswell’s 5th field goal, Andy Dalton attempted to get the Bengals on the scoreboard for the first time in the second half, but on third down was intercepted by Lawrence Timmons. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh couldn’t convert the turnover into anything more than Boswell’s sixth field goal of the day, making the score 20-18.
The Steelers’ defense was able to force a three-and-out, and Ben Roethlisberger orchestrated a beautiful drive which was capped off with an Eli Rogers touchdown reception. Pittsburgh went for the two-point conversion, and failed, but still gave Pittsburgh the lead 24-20 with 7:29 left in the game.
Pittsburgh’s defense continued to suffocate the Cincinnati offense, and was able to force a punt with just 5 minutes of time left in the game. A combination of Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell were able to grind out the clock and move into Cincinnati territory, killing out the clock and leading to a 24-20 victory.
The win marks the 5th in a row for Pittsburgh, and advances their overall record to 9-5. It also sets up a huge game in Week 16 against the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas day for the AFC North division. The Bengals are now eliminated from the playoffs.